“The New Castle of the Pope”

Or in other words, “Chateauneuf-du-Pape” (here on out called CdP), one of the finest red wines of the Old World. Last night, I attended a CdP tasting at Richard Kinssies’ excellent Seattle Wine Outlet. I haven’t had much exposure to this Southern Rhone wine, so I was looking forward to learning as much as I could. Another cool thing about the evening was that I ran into Kris Mikami at the tasting. Kris is one of the folks in the Washington Wine industry that has a pulse on the entire industry. Definitely a mover and shaker. But yeah, I learned a ton from the event and in the spirit of sharing information, I’ll summarize the knowledge that was dropping.

The wine. Chateauneuf-du-Pape is unique in that the blend has the potential to reach up to 13 different grapes! Grenache is the dominant grape, with Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and a host of others invited to the shindig. Where the CdP region is located is in the Southeast of France, where the Rhone River drains. The terroir is unique here because there isn’t much visible soil, instead there is a top layer of ‘galet’ or stones that shield the soil and insulate the rootstock. Interesting stuff.

Oh yeah, the name. It was called Chateauneuf du Pape. Because a long, long time ago in a country far, far away, the papal ministry wanted to move the papalcy to France. Pourquoi? Because Pope Clement V was a wine lover. So he moved the church to Avignon and built the new castle to the Pope. And the embossing on CdP bottles? That means it was estate bottled. Flex that trivia sometime. You won’t even have to give me credit.

The taste of CdP is unique in that there is no definitive common bond between them, yet you’ll know one when you taste one. Some can be fruit forward, evident tannins to wines with strong spice components, tart, tangy tendencies. This huge palette has much to do with the blend of grapes. One thing that is certain is that it must be 50% Grenache by law.

To conclude, Chateaneuf du Pape is an utterly delightful wine that I look forward to drinking more of soon. With some grilled lamb perhaps? Enjoy this delightful wine, now or down the road. It’s aging potential is excellent! Cheers to all!

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